Cubs vs. Cardinals: Series Thread (Games 153-156)
It's here, the Cubs vs. Cards series we've been waiting for. The Cubs feel to three games behind the Cardinals, remained in a tie with the Brewers for the second Wild Card spot, and fell behind the Nationals by 1.5 for the top Wild Card spot. That means, it would take a Cubs sweep of the four-game set to jump over the Cardinals in the division this weekend, right where you would want to be so that you don't have to end the season needing a sweep of the Cards on the road. The Cubs will have to continue to do their most important work without Javy, Rizzo, or even the backup Russell. In the meantime, they will continue to rely on mid-season additions (Castellanos), recent reactivations (Contreras, Zobrist), and 2019 newbies (Hoerner, Kyle Ryan, Rowan Wick, etc.). See below for how this hodge-podge will match up with the Cards.
Game 153, Thursday, September 19, 6:15pmCDT
CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (11-9, 3.26 ERA)
STL: RHP Jack Flaherty (10-8, 3.05 ERA)
This may be the biggest match-up. Will we stay invested, or hedge our emotional bets? That could depend on whether the Cubs can win this opening game. The Cubs send their best starting pitcher to face the Card's best. Hendricks has been strong in his last three starts, allowing a single earn run in each and going into the sixth as well. He's 3-0 in three starts against the Cards this year, one at home and two on the road. He has allowed one earned run in 23 innings pitched, with the first game being his 4-hit complete game shutout in St. Louis. Who else would you want starting against Flaherty? Ozuna is 12-29 with two homeruns off of him.
Something seems to have clicked for Flaherty in the second half, and he's been arguably the best pitcher in the league since then. His ERA is only 1.05 since then and he's stuck out 11.52 per nine innings. He took a loss to the Brewers in his last start, allowing three earned runs in six innings despite striking out ten. He's 1-1 in four starts against the Cubs this year, allowing nine earned runs in 21.2 innings. He'll be fortunate to miss Rizzo, who has done the vast majority of the Cubs' damage against him, going 8-15 with two homeruns.
Game 154, Friday, September 20, 1:20pmCDT
CHC: LHP José Quintana (13-8, 4.37 ERA)
STL: RHP Michael Wacha (6-7, 4.76 ERA)
Quintana has been pulled early in each of his last starts, so he should be well rested? It's been a rough three-game stretch in which he has allowed thirteen earned runs in only 10.1 innings. In that time, he's benefitted from some offensive and bullpen rescues, going 1-0. It's time to pay back that favor. Cardinals hitters have, however, very much enjoyed their time against Q; they have a collective OPS of .931 in 152 at-bats. Goldschmidts stands out in particular at 8-13 with three homeruns. If he's not making his pitches, Q may find himself getting the quick hook for a third start in a row.
Michael Wacha has been terrible this year, but he's been a little sharper lately. He held Milwaukee scoreless in five innings last time out, and has allowed only nine earned runs in his last 31.2 innings over seven starts. The Cubs have collectively accrued a 1.011(!) OPS against Wacha over 218 at-bats. Bryant is 11-35 with three homeruns.
Game 155, Saturday, September 21, 1:20pmCDT
CHC: LHP Cole Hamels (7-7, 3.96 ERA)
STL: RHP Dakota Hudson (16-7, 3.35 ERA)
Hamels looked like the Cubs best starter for quite a while, but he's long since come back to earth. He exited his last start in the fourth having allowed only two earned runs but also having walked five batters. Control has very much been the issue, as he's walked fourteen batters over his last seventeen innings. Good news? The strikeouts are still there. The Cards have generally not been able to figure him out, flailing their collective way to a .541 OPS in 179 at-bats. Matt Carpenter and Marcel Ozuna are just barely propping those numbers up, 5-15 and 9-38 (with a homerun) respectively.
After pitching a handful of innings out of the MLB bullpen last year, Dakota Hudson has been treated to 16 wins as a starter in 2019. He relies extensively on ground balls to keep the old ERA down, as he doesn't strike out many and walks over four per nine innings. He's missed the Cubs so far, making this his first exposure to them as a starter. Last time out he defeated the Nationals, allowing two earned runs in seven innings. Lucroy is 2-3 off of him.
Game 156, Sunday, September 22, 1:20pmCDT
CHC: RHP Yu Darvish (6-7, 4.02 ERA)
STL: RHP Miles Mikolas (9-14, 4.29 ERA)
Darvish's last start was extremely weird making it somehow typical for Yu in 2019 as well. He struck out 13, including 8 in a row at one point, but lost the game anyway, allowing four earned runs including a homerun in seven innings. Before that, he struck out 14 and earned a win in San Diego. Keep the Ks coming, but let's forego the dingers. The Cards haven't seen too much of him. Ozuna is 4-10 and Jose Martinez is 3-5 with a homerun.
Mikolas has been consistently OK throughout the year, and that's been his story of late as well. He's 2-1 in his last five starts, allowing 11 earned runs in 28 innings. He's 0-2 against the Cubs in three starts this year, but he's allowed only four earned run in those 16.2 innings. Cubs lefties have mostly fared better against him, including back-ups Caratini and Happ. Schwarber, 1-12 with four strikeouts, is an exception.
Let's go, Cubs!
JustSayin' 7 hours 3 min ago (view)
Solid % improvement for minor leaguers and nice to see the Cubs among the first organizations to break ranks to the upside. Three comments: 1. Yes, the bonus babies have already BEEN paid but that is the minority of these young men. 2.
crunch 9 hours 43 min ago (view)
more spring news...
i.happ expected to primarily play CF this spring. rizzo expected to primarily hit 2nd going into the season.
Charlie 15 hours 49 min ago (view)
That's fair. And the discussion would be different if Almora were heads and shoulders above Happ defensively, which seems (surprisingly) not to be the case.
bradsbeard 16 hours 2 min ago (view)
I'm not ready to write him off from the right side just yet. One of the things I believe about Happ is that switch hitters in general just take longer to establish themselves as hitters due to having to develop and maintain two separate swings. Given that he sees fewer lefties, you kind of have to give him a little more leeway to develop there I think.
Arizona Phil 16 hours 2 min ago (view)
jdrnym: No word yet on 2020 minor league active roster limits, but I doubt they will do anything new since the minor league 7-day IL with no doctor's note required (sometimes called the "phantom IL") allows clubs to easily rotate guys (especially pitchers) back & forth/on & off the active list.
Charlie 16 hours 9 min ago (view)
I didn't realize until today that the new network will be broadcasting almost every spring training game. Just a heads up for anyone else expecting the usual 4-6 broadcasts.
Charlie 16 hours 19 min ago (view)
I think he's going to strike out over 25% of the time, but he's shown that he can be an above average overall hitter even if he's only batting .230-.250.
I'm also not a big fan of the swing, and I'd be very skeptical of him if the ball is deadened. Stats suggest he'd benefit from a true platoon despite being a switch hitter. Sure would be nice if Almora could hold up the other end competently.
Hagsag 16 hours 21 min ago (view)
Kelly C. to the Braves. Damn it.
First.Pitch.120 17 hours 41 min ago (view)
Let us know if you see Dunderwood shagging flyballs in the OF...
First.Pitch.120 17 hours 46 min ago (view)
Re: 6-8, w/ JHey in the 6 hole there are a lot of interesting things that can happen 7-9. You have the 2B slot, Happ (CF), & P slot. Happ is a Switch hitter (though admittedly better LHH), roster looks to be long on 2B options from both sides (quality issues TBD, but promising IMHO), & a slot you with pinch hit for at least x2/gm. Lots of dbl switch possibilities (w/o jacking up the rest of your lineup)
That creates some brutal match up decisions for the opposing mgr right before recycling back to Bryzzo.
Dolorous Jon Lester 18 hours 29 min ago (view)
I think proving the K rate wasn't a fluke would go a long way toward convincing me.
bradsbeard 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
Hey, if you hate the swing there's probably nothing I can say to change your mind. I personally think it's one of the nicer looking ones on the team.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 4 hours ago (view)
Extended period of good hitting? Not striking out at deeply inopportune times? Some baseball IQ in regard to situational hitting?
I think I also just hate his swing. It's so long and loopy.
Wrigley Rat 1 day 6 hours ago (view)
C/1B Alberto Mineo (25) has re-signed with the Cubs organization according to: https://www.mister-baseball.com/alberto-mineo-mino...
bradsbeard 1 day 7 hours ago (view)
Happ has been an above average hitter every season he's been in the majors, and he killed it in his brief return from the minors last year (with better contact and lower K rates to boot). Aside from an extended period with the lower K rates, what else are you not seeing?
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 8 hours ago (view)
Bote, for the moment, is adequate. Very unsold on the 2 LH hitting 2B options.
I have never seen it for Happ. I'd love for him to prove me wrong but I dont see it happening.